Bloomington High School South

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

If our staff was asked about our number one goal for students, especially as it relates to our school’s academic culture, the answer from all would be . . . we do what’s best for kids.  This sentiment literally drives every decision made at Bloomington High School South.  How we support this idea is best summarized by Rick DuFour: we practice a loose—tight philosophy.  Our purpose and our passion are to make sure all kids learn.  How teachers do that is up to their teaching styles, but what they teach is tight (teachers collaborate on a curriculum, assessments and responses when students struggle).  

Our culture was forever changed and our efforts transformed in 2003 when 25% of our staff attended a Professional Learning Community Summer Institute here at Bloomington South.  We were familiar with Rick DuFour’s PLC work and we felt an immersion experience would be a great catalyst to further implementing our practices to become a high performing Professional Learning Community.  We began our transformation with the idea that we could create time after school for additional collaboration to work on curriculum and assessments.  (We eventually added time to the school day several years later, but that process will be discussed later).  We agreed to give time for teacher collaboration whenever possible and minimized all building level administrative meetings as one way to provide more time.  And thus, we began the process of narrowing our focus for school improvement into the Four Guiding Questions of a PLC:

  1. What do we want students to learn?
  2. How do we know they have learned?
  3. What do we do when students don’t learn?
  4. How do we respond when they do learn?

 This early work led to teams of teachers working together to make improvements in our mapping and common assessments.   By creating a time  for teachers where professional collaboration was their only taks, they could share practices, ideas and experiences on the best means to help students learn specific skills.  Our students benefited greatly and our teachers were becoming more energized.  It was at this point that our teachers also started to re-examine our goals that were required for state reporting.  We agreed that our school goals were reducing failures and making sure students were prepared for college and careers.  It was this piece that continued to drive our decisions much like the four guiding questions did when we started to refocus our school.  This discussion was a great preview to Dr. Many’s “The Stars are in Alignment” that we would later discover and use to continue to be clear about our work.  

Fast forward a few years and our work on question number three (What do we do when students don't learn?) gave us another boost of energy and really began making a work an on-going process.  Our supports for students became more timely, direct and systemic and our teachers really embraced concepts like grading for master, taking assessments more than once and accepting late work.  

We have been walking the talk since 2012 when we were first recognized as a National Model PLC school, and it's safe to say that today, we are all zellots.  When given the opportunity to change practices and provide less time for RTI during the day or collaborate less, or teachers had this to say:

The following results from a teacher survey speak to our collective efforts to build a professional learning community focused on student results:

  1. 99% of our teachers agree that our school has increased its focus on providing academic supports to ensure students learning. 
  2. 95% of our teachers agree that our Wednesday time schedule (late start for students) provides necessary time for teachers to collaborate about student learning and to determine (by student and skill) what supports are needed each week.
  3. 97% of our teachers agree that they have a better awareness of where their students’ need help because of the data from common assessments.   The majority of those who did not agree felt they still lack a way to determine if student’s needs are being met outside of the classroom.    

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Students at South are monitored through the lens of a growth mindset.  We, promote, practice and preach the same message to all of our students—they will learn.  We monitor each student individually with a fluid process for intervention.  First, teachers regularly update grades and monitor that students are mastering essential skills on common assessments.  When teachers feel that students are having issues outside of the classroom, students are recommended to guidance counselors, administrators and our social worker who assess the needs of the situation.  Academically, when students are struggling, counselors regularly check in with the students on their watch list.  Students who demonstrate that they are struggling to complete work and keep up also have regular “check and connects” with our graduation coaches.  Students who are missing work and failing classes are restricted on their choices for Plus Time.  We have three criteria for appointing students to PACE labs to receive help outside of the classroom:

Tier 1 is for students who are missing 3 or more assignments in one course.  This lab is run by one assistant principal and the goal is to encourage kids to get work done.  If teachers feel a student does not understand the assignment, the student is pulled into a re-teaching lab.  

Tier 2 is for students who did not respond to Tier 1 after one week.  Students remain in this support until they get all make up work turned in.  This lab is run by guidance counselors, one administrator, one coach and two math teachers.  The focus with these students is organization and a plan for homework completion.  All of these students “want” to pass their classes but they struggle to maintain with the soft skills required to turn in work.

Tier 3 is for students who are failing 3 or more classes and have disengaged from a course.   This section is reserved for students who prohibit others from working when they attend class as they are willfully trying to not work.  This is a very restrictive environment but students are allowed to earn their way out if they bring their grades up, and we are proud to state that students earn their way out regularly.  This lab is staffed by a teacher trained in Boy’s Town classroom protocols and represents what Mike Mattos' calls intentional non-learners.   

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

In 2010 our school board decided to add time to the day.  The board allowed for each school to decide how to utilize the time.  As we were heavily entrenched with Mike Mattos’ work on RTI, we decided to use the additional time to expand our after school tutoring program during the day to provide timely, direct and systemic support to every student with 45 minutes of additional instruction three days a week.  This program became known as Panther Plus Time. 

Our conversations about “what we wanted the program to do” may have been the most focused, student-driven, and culture changing conversations that we have ever had together as a staff.  We were literally looking at every adjustment through the lens of the Four Guiding Questions and had a number of intense conversations within our administrative council team, which consists of department chairs from each department, about what we were doing in every area of curriculum. 

During that month, our staff agreed to a variety of ideas about “what” we wanted to do during this time that would drive our work for the next five years.  We agreed:

 

  • Every teacher in the building would see kids during our intervention time. 
  • All students should experience high quality tier 1 instruction in every class.  Each department would get a priority day each week.
  • Priority days would focus on direct instruction and skill building when students were struggling with topics that had already been covered. 
  • Enrichment activities would take place on days other than priority.
  • When direct instruction for students who did not learn the material the first time was occurring, the lab would be “closed” to student sign up so teachers could control the class dynamic.
  • Teachers on the same team would see all the kids in a particular course and break the information down to small chunks for students needing similar supports as opposed to only seeing their kids and trying to reteach everything every week. 
  • Students would be able to select where they attended if they were making earning above a “C” and no teacher requested to see them.  We felt this would motivate students to engage in the program.
  • Intentional non-learners would be split into tiers highlighting slightly different needs in each group.
  • Language for labs between departments should be consistent so students knew what to expect.  Terms like skill building, help, review and test make up, were defined and agreed upon.
  • Students achieving at high levels would have enrichment opportunities in every department.
  • Teachers will use this time for academics only and clubs will not meet. 
  • Commonly referring to the intervention time when we talked about it would help the concept catch on, so we named it Panther Plus Time.
  • These would be our core outcome for Panther Plus Time:
    • Increase our opportunities to provide timely, systemic and direct supports to students;
    • Increase opportunities to provide students unique academic experiences during the school day;
    • Increase student awareness of how they are performing in a particular course.

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

 Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.  Vince Lombardi

Our capacity to build teams is driven by our desire to recruit and keep the best teachers we can find and have them work collaboratively to guarantee we are doing all we can to ensure that ALL students learn.  We agree as a faculty that learning happens at different speeds, in different ways and that learning is not linear.  We also regularly communicate that no one teacher can do it alone, so we must collaborate and work collectively.  And, on more than one occasion we have shared the wisdom that all of us can’t be as dumb as one of us.  While we have participated in a variety of trainings over the years to help teachers acquire best practices on raising student achievement, our most focused effort over the last ten years has been staying committed to the Four Guiding Questions.  These questions provide a tangible, specific focus for our collaboration that drives how we evaluate changes in our curriculum, our mission statement and our goals for school improvement. 

While it might be more appropriate to focus on the mechanics of our collaboration, our willingness to bring things to a vote before making changes, or our fluid discussions about curriculum changes  to characterize our collaborative culture,  or even the way we created our RTI program, perhaps the best evidence of our collaborative culture is what our guests share when they visit to gain insight into our PLC practices.

Schools routinely share that they can “feel and see” our teachers’ shared commitment to our students’ learning.  Maybe it’s as simple as our teachers regularly referring to what “they” do in departments as opposed to what “I” do.   Maybe it’s the fact that our teachers refer to the student body as “our kids” as opposed to only mentioning the kids they have in class.  Whatever the context, our teachers are passionate about working together to do what’s best for students.  We have realized that working together is the best way for all of us to get better and it’s the only way to ensure that we are all doing what we can to ensure all students are learning.   However, what is not unclear is that our visitors see it—our culture and our structure match.  They see that we walk the talk.  The visit hoping to have a better grasp of what a PLC looks like, and they leave with tangible examples.  

Additional Achievement Data

One of the greatest things about our work in PLC is that no matter what the state or federal government has changed, we have been able to fluidly address changes in our curriculum and programming by looking at the four guiding questions.   Literally, any data from graduation rate, passing rates, state tests, AP and SAT participation, along with AP and SAT performance are all going in the right direction.  

Prior to PLC work, it was not uncommon to have over 20% of students flunk a particular class (algebra for example).  Now, that rate is consistently below 10% and we have had terms where it is as low as 3%.

While the state score for percentage of students earning 3 or higher on AP has remained at 50% for the past several years, we have reamined 10 to 25 points higher.  

We consistenly have a higher percentage of students taking the SAT than both the state average and schools in close proximity.  At the same time, our scores continue to outperform schools that test smaller portions of students.  

While state testing continues to change, we have continued to qualify as an "A" school and this past year our score for English and math were among the highest for public schools our size.  

 

SAT Scores and Trends

 

 

 

 

 

Math at South

 

Math IN Avg

Reading

at

South

Reading IN

Avg

Writing at South

Writing IN

Avg

Percentage of Seniors Taking at South

 

2015-16

564

499

551

496

526

477

73%

 

2014-15

557

496

545

492

522

474

74%

 

2013-14

553

498

546

493

553

473

78%

 

Baseline 2007

      542

 

507

535

497

513

 483

71%

 

                       

 

AP Trends over Three Years

 

 

 

 

% Total AP 3+

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

 

Bloomington South

61%

61%

74%

67%

68%

 

Indiana

50%

51%

51%

51%

53%

 

Global

61%

61%

60%

60%

60%

 

Graduation Rate

 

 

 

 

% Total AP 3+

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

 

Bloomington South

94%

97%

97%

97%

97%

 

Indiana

89%

89%

901%

90%

90%

 

                 

 

 

ISTEP State Assessment results

 

 

 

 

 

 

ECA

Math at South

Indiana Math

English at South

 

Indiana English

Passing both at South

Indiana passing both

2017

58%

37%

84%

67%

57%

34%

2016

53%

35%

83%

59%

53%

32%

                 

 

ISTEP

Math at South

Indiana Math

English at South

Indiana English

Passing both at South

Indiana passing both

2015

77%

70%

90%

80%

85%

75%

2014

70%

73%

90%

79%

87%

74%

2013

73%

69%

87%

77%

82%

72%

Indiana adopted a new state test ISTEP in 2016.  Prior to this new assessment, South would score 10 points above the state average at best and often times be within a few points. 

The last two years, as the test has become more rigorous, our scores are even more reflective of the impact PLC has on student learning. South students were top 5 in English scores and top 10 in math for public schools are size and we are nearly 20 points above the state average.

 

 

 

State and national recognition as an AP school

State grade of an “A” for the last five years

Ham Radio World Champs

 Academic State Championships:

  • Science Olympiad
  • Robotics competition
  • Solar Bike
  • JETS

Consistent award winning students earning the highest scholarship awards and acceptance into schools all over the country

  Fine Arts:

  • Award winning choir, marching band, jazz ensembles and orchestra

  Philanthropy:

  • Riley Children's Hospital Dance Marathon—Leading Light Award for Chamber of Commerce.  Second largest student run non-profit for Children’s Miracle Network in the country and raised over $850,000 in the last 12 years.  

  Athletic State Championships in recent years:

  • Boys basketball
  • Boys Wrestling individual finalists
  • Boys track individuals
  • Girls track individuals
  • Boys tennis individual
  • Girls tennis individual
  • Girls softball
  • Boys swimming relays
  • Boys diving
  • Girls swimming individual

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